Photos of Aboriginal Hunting in the Northern Territory, Australia

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Aboriginal Hunting in the Northern Territory

Australia's Aborigines have always been a hunter-gathering people and although all communities have a local store, many people will tell you that there is nothing better than freshly caught meat. In the old days people used spears to catch the larger animals, but these days rifles are used to shoot kangaroos and emus.

Taking aim
Launching a spear
Spear throwing
Caught an emu
A succesful hunter
A shot bush turkey
Take a big bite
A freshly shot kangaroo
Hunting dugong
Cutting up a dugong
Killing a goanna
Caught a goanna
Arnhem Land hunter
Shot an ibis
Hooked tortoise
Preparing a goanna
Harpooning turtle
Catching a turtle
After turtle hunt
Cooking a turtle
Turtle meat
Smoking out a goanna
Cooking a turtle
Dragging a sea turtle

Although rifles are now widespread in Aboriginal communities and hunting trips are mostly by four-wheel drive (or occasionally with battered Holden sedans thumping across the bush), there are still people who can stalk animals on foot, able to tell from as little as a bent blade of grass when a kangaroo or emu has passed there and what direction it has gone. Aboriginal trackers are the best in the world.

On the coast, hunting is done at sea, where catching dugong (a sea mammal) and the green sea-turtle are especially important. A hand-held harpoon with detachable points is used and it requires great skill, from an open boat (nowadays aluminium dinghies with outboard motors); for the people of the Gulf of Carpentaria there is great ceremonial meaning in this. Spears are also used in Arnhem Land to catch fish and freshwater crocodiles but goannas are caught by hand or brought down with sticks after they've fled in a tree. Goannas, the large monitor lizards, are caught by hand and are highly prized.